Anniversary

This story was announced today as Highly Commended in the NZSA Northern Branch Short Story Competition. We had to write on the theme of Loss. The story actually constitutes just one part of a larger work (more to come on that), but was originally based on my experience of miscarriage. I press my hands deeper…

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Covet

I wrote this story ten years ago. It was runner-up in the Reader's Digest 100-word story competition 2013. It has exactly 100 words. Covet You stand in the corner, silent. Your legs, your arms, your back all curve luxuriously, stealing space. You are taunting me. Teasing me. Come. Closer. Caress. Covet. I circle you, regarding…

Dandelion Clocks

I'm delighted to announce that my short story "Dandelion Clocks" has won the 2021 NZSA Graeme Lay Short Story competition. In his announcement on Facebook today, Graeme said: Themes of childhood loss and the possibility of renewal make this beautifully observed and sensitively written story difficult to forget. Thank you, Graeme, and congratulations to the…

Throat Clearing

Today I want to suggest one way you can improve your short fiction. Stop clearing your throat. Throat clearing is what many writers do at the beginning of a short story. They set the scene. They ease us in. But as the name of the concept implies, much of it is an unnecessary and ineffectual prelude to the good…

Our Father

I wrote this story ten years ago, after my father-in-law (at the time) died. I wanted to somehow make sense of my profound feelings at having witnessed his death. It was published in Takahē magazine (a literary journal) in 2013. Today, on Father's Day, I remember Carl Bosselmann, and everyone who has lost a father.…

Wrestling the Octopus: how to avoid writing a novel

At a certain point, a novel-in-progress starts to get a tad unwieldy. When you begin, you have a blank screen and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. After a few months you have a mountain of scrap paper scrawled with half-finished paragraphs and synopsis drafts, screeds of ideas jotted down and pinned all over the walls in your office,…